Relationship Between Young Children’s Gestures and Language Development
thesisposted on 28.06.2013 by Eileen M. Brann
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Relationship Between Young Children’s Gestures and Language Development BY EILEEN MARIE BRANN This study extended research on relationships among gesture and language development in young children, through the design and evaluation of a parent report measure of early gesture use. Using factor analysis, Rasch analysis, and regression analyses, the study assessed relationships among gesture use, sociocultural variables, risk for autism, and language development in young children, using a newly devised parent report instrument, the Checklist of Children’s Gestures (Brann, 2009). Parents completed the Checklist of Children’s Gestures for their two- or three-year-old children (n = 179). Factor analysis confirmed previous research on the functions of children’s gesture use. Rasch analysis revealed the developmental pattern of gesture use. Regression analyses indicated age and socioeconomic differences on gesture ability. Most important, gesture ability explained a significant amount of variance on the language scores on the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, even after controlling for sociocultural measures (child’s age, gender, SES, ethnicity, and language learning environment), and autism screening status on the M-CHAT. As the goal of early language assessment is to evaluate the strengths and needs of communicative interactions and pre-speech language functioning in infants and toddlers, these findings suggest that speech- language pathologists and early intervention providers may find it valuable to use a reliable, valid, and feasible parent checklist to assess children’s gestures and to target gestures in language intervention.